I realized too late last week that I had forgotten about the "French Word A Week"…again. You’ll have to excuse me, it’s a full, packed and pretty awesome summer. One busy making good use of all the produce around me too. Peach jam especially. Let’s remedy my short term memory lately with this week’s French Words: confiture de peche (click on the words to hear the pronunciation).
Beside working, I must take time to enjoy and make the most of the produce around me and nothing could be quite as perfect right now as South Carolina peaches. Actually, the scent of peach jam in the making while editing pictures or writing is quite distracting. But the wait is oh so worth it!
Making jam always puts me in a great mood. It reminds me so much of the steps my mother and grandmother took each summer to capture the best of what the markets had to offer. I remember afternoons spent dicing apricots, cutting strawberries, peeling oranges. Mounds after mounds of sugar. Hours of stirring and cooking down the fruits.
Everyone has their favorite recipe for jams and preserves, ours was pretty standard. Fruit, sugar, cook until caramelized almost then can. I have ventured out in other methods but I always go back to the same one. Nothing says home to me like the heady aroma of fruits caramelizing on the stove. So far I have turned a 25 pound box of Southern peaches into jars of Peach-Vanilla, Peach-Ginger and Peach-Grand Marnier jams.
Nothing made me happier to give a couple to Caitlin from Engineer Baker and her fiance who came for a quick visit this weekend. As a present, I offered to photograph their wedding this coming November and since they recently moved to North Carolina, I welcomed them to come down one weekend so we could do some informal engagement shots and we have been having a blast so far and the weekend is not over yet!
Have a wonderful weekend! Peach Vanilla Jam:
Makes about 8 cups
3 pounds peaches, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1.5 pounds sugar
1-2 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise
juice of one lemon
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, place the peaches, sugar and vanilla bean. Add the lemon juice and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to heat and simmer 1-2 hours until the fruit has taken on a dark orange color and is almost caramelized. Make sure to stir every so often to prevent the bottom from burning. Can.
If you add liquor, add as much as you like up to 1/2 cup right before turning the jam off.
If everything goes according to plan, I’ll be home in France in two weeks. It’s been four years since I have not been back and it was not for lack of planning or trying. Just happened that way. But now, as we get closer to the date, I buzz about even faster. As B. said "now you’re like a buzzy bee on a sugar high"… There is so much to do, straighten out, finalize, revise…Things I don’t want to do while away. People to see, places to be, milestones to celebrate. Life. Family. Time. Away.
I am already thinking about all the flavors of my childhood. Lavender fields, apricot jam and cherry clafoutis, cantaloupe with a splash of port wine, nectarines, barbecues and Champagne and cassis cocktails. Picking berries on the side of the roads by the Durance river. The juice of fresh peaches trickling down my chin, and my arm, and ruining my dress. But always leaving me happy happy.
I’ve always thought my little corner of Provence has some of the best stone fruit until I tried a Southern peach here. I can’t even compare they are so different. South Carolina peaches are a treat for sure. Think about your favorite peach scented anything and there you have it. It sounds like it has magical powers doesn’t it? Well it does. Right now, it makes the perfect dessert. Breakfast. Snack. I am even tempted to call it dinner tonight.
Imagine how giddy I was this week when I found myself the recipient of over 10 pounds of just ripe, just perfect peaches. Yeah. Giddy. It did not take me long to figure out what I wanted to do with them. Instincts kicked in and once back in the kitchen I started the little dance I’d do everytime at the restaurant. I started poaching, roasting, peeling, dicing…Pots and pans filled every corner of the stove and countertops. From savory to sweet, salsa to sorbet. Truly a good day.
The first thing I made though was galettes, free form tarts. I poached four peaches in jasmine tea, let them cool completely, peeled, pitted and sliced them thin. I used half a peach per galette, some I left all peach and some had a small handful of blueberries added to them. All were sprinkled with sugar infused with lemon thyme like I did previously in these Fresh Berries Tartelettes. Simply rub herbs and sugar together, can be citrus zest too, it works wonders!
I love how packed the summer gets. I love the epic heat of a day spent outdoors followed by stormy winds and thunderstorms. Summer. When rules are bent and time extends following the sunset. And mostly, right now, I love summer because of peach galettes….
Peach and Peach Blueberry Galettes With Lemon Thyme Sugar:
Makes 8 individual galettes (we share but you don’t have to)
– I use lemon thyme a lot this year because our one little plant is going wild. Our lemon balm and mint have suffered from the heat but you could definitely use those flavor.
Rosemary, oregano, chocolate mint and sweet basil work beautifully too. The sky is the limit!
– we are not fond of the taste of tapioca flour so I use cornstarch instead but feel free to use either or.
– If you are not baking gluten free, replace the rice, millet, sorghum flours and cornstarch with 1.5 cups of all purpose flour and omit the xanthan gum.
– you can make this as one large 9-inch galette if you want to.
For the pastry dough:
5 tablespoons (70gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup (80gr) superfine sweet white rice flour
1/2 cup (60gr) millet flour
1/4 cup (30gr) sorghum flour
1/4 cup (40gr) corn starch (or tapioca flour)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup cold milk
For the fruits:
1 tea bag jasmine tea (or your favorite)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup blueberries
For the lemon thyme sugar:
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon thyme finely chopped
Prepare the crust:
In a mixer, whip the butter on medium speed until light and airy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Mix until incorporated. Add the salt, and all the different flours, and the xantham gum and mix briefly. Add enough milk to moisten it. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured (use more rice flour) board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Prepare the fruits:
While the dough is resting, place the peaches, tea bag, sugar and enough water to cover the fruit in a large saucepan set over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and poach the peach until just fork tender. Remove from the heat and let them cool on a clean kitchen towel. Once cooled, peel and halve them, remove the pits and slice the peaches thin.
Prepare the sugar:
In a small bowl, mix the sugar and lemon thyme together with your fingertips and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between two sheets of plastic. If the dough tears while you roll, just patch it with your fingertips. Cut eight 4-inch rounds, rerolling and using the dough as you go (ig it gets too soft, just refrigerate for a few minutes as you fill the other galettes with fruit).
Arrange the slices of half a peach in the center of each round and gather the edges, pleating as you go with your fingertips (don’t worry about being even – these are free form. Imperfections are wonderful anyways…). Add blueberries on top if desired and sprinkle with some lemon thyme sugar.
Place all the galettes on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 30-35 minutes.
– bike and handlebar basket: ours
– basket on bench: Dollar Store (yes…)
– wooden bowl: Star Provisions, Atlanta
– linen last picture: Cicada Studio, etsy
– wooden forks: Sprout Home
– enamel pot: ebay
B. jokes that every four years, he loses me to the World Cup. I smile and add "and the rugby Six Nations Championship, the Tour de France and the Formula One races throughout the year. Let’s not forget the 24 hours of Le Mans". That’s the environment I was raised in. I grew up with Platini, Maradona, Sella, Camberabero, Prost, Schumacher, Fittipaldi, Bernard Hinault, Laurent Fignon. All year long. All these years.
And yet no one in my family actually played a sport past 16 years old! That is unless you consider four or five- hour long dinners a sport, which my husband happens to do, especially after many a Sunday dinners shared back home. Competitive longest meals followed by competitive moonshine. My uncle Jacques is still reigning supreme in the "moonshine so strong it will bleach your coffee cup" department.
I have mentioned Sundays in passing with my grandmother’s apricot tart but they were much more than that. They usually started with a trip to the market behind our house where my grandmother would get tiny grey shrimp and peppery radishes. Getting flowers, setting up the table, cutting saucisson for the aperitif. Waiting for everyone to finally start lunch around 12.30pm and linger all afternoon in between the TV room and the dessert plates. Coffee, petits fours, chocolates. Heaven.
Desserts were most often kept very simple with a big bowl of fruit salad. Some cookies. Some ice cream. Came summer, the table was graced with an abundance of deep dark cherries and juicy peaches. Two of my favorite summer fruits.
Perfect French Word A Week opportunity if you ask me. And that’s two words to boot.
If you ever travel to the South of France, they will quickly become crucial to know as they are everywhere in those parts. Perfectly kissed by the Provencal sun.
Click on the words Peche (click on word for the pronunciation).
When sports start to tie up the little bit of free time I have, especially in the summer time, I’d better have something quick and easy ready for us, whether we dine alone or get together with friends. I have a strong affinity for ice cream paired with fresh fruits when warmer and sunnier days roll around and things happen a lot more in a impromptu manner.
If they are perfectly juicy, ripe and a bit tangy, then I am in heaven. Sometimes, dessert needs to remain this easy. Sometimes, it needs a little pimping out and it gets even better. Over the years, I have become completely addicted to grilling stone fruits and serving them with fresh yogurt, fresh cheese or ice cream. The combo is just brilliant. When it comes to cherries, B. is not a big fan unless I poach them with honey until soft and tender.
Such a simple combination and so easy to put together with friends around the barbecue one summer evening. Homemade vanilla bean ice cream, grilled peaches and warm juicy poached cherries. Next time I think I’ll pair lavender ice cream and grilled apricot. Non?
When I combined the two the other day, it got me a two-day free pass to not have to walk the dogs during a World Cup game. I took it. Right now, it’s better than a free laundry pass to me, eheheh!
So…what is your secret culinary weapon to earn yourself some "house points"?
Before I forget: Thank you Mom for the pretty plates from Asya at www.gleena.com for my birthday! They arrived still warm from the kiln. Kidding. Just about.
Grilled Peaches, Poached Cherries and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream:
Notes: once the ice cream is set, everything else comes together in less than 20-30 minutes. You can also start with the cherries and let them cool while you prepare the peaches.
For the ice cream:
4 egg yolks
1 cup (100gr) + 2 tablespoons (25gr) sugar
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
1 cup (250ml) heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split open and seeded
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and one cup of sugar until pale and thick. In a saucepan set over medium heat, bring the milk, cream and vanilla bean to a simmer, without letting it come to a full boil. Slowly pour the hot cream over the egg yolks mixture while whisking to temper the egg yolks. Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the cream coats the back of spoon. It should register 170F on a candy thermometer. At this point you have made a custard sauce, also known as "creme anglaise". Let cool completely, strain and refrigerate until cold.
Once the custard is cold, process it according to your ice cream maker manufacturer’s instructions and freeze for 2 hours or more.
For the fruits:
4 peaches (preferably not completely ripe so they don’t disintegrate)
1 to 1/2 cups cherries
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup orange juice
Prepare the peaches:
Wash them thoroughly but do not peel them. Cut them in half and remove the pit. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grill grate. Place the peaches cut side down on the prepared grate, and grill for about 5 minute. Remove and set aside.
Prepare the cherries:
Wash them thoroughly, cut them in half and remove the pits with the tip of a sharp knife. Place them in a large saucepan with the honey and orange juice over medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes until soft. Remove from the heat and let cool a bit. Too warm and it will melt the ice cream way too fast.
To assemble, simply layer the ice cream and the fruits in bowls, cups and ramekins.
When Spring and Summer roll around, I think in shades of pinks and reds. When Fall and Winter point their nose, I am all about the blues and the purples. Greens are oranges are not my colors. Nope. And yet, the first thing I thought about with the first sign of cooler mornings and breezy nights were Matcha and Peach Pate de Fruits Macarons. Enjoying the last bit of summer produce while cozying up to the subtle taste of matcha tea.
Lately, the mere mention of tea evocates long talks on the porch and a light chill on a late night walk. You can feel the air changing. I can finally feel some coolness under my feet when I let the dogs out early in the morning. I can almost hear the grass crisp up as we come down, ready for us. These first few days of September have really been quite Fall-ish and are probably temporary due a hurricane being just around the corner. Nevertheless, every time this lovely Fall breeze enters the house, we just stop whatever we are doing and enjoy for a few seconds. Even if it is short lived it is worth those few seconds in the day.
When I went to teach Veronica a three dayPastry Bootcamp, she not only gifted me with her hospitality and friendship, but with also a few stashes of vanilla beans, some saffron and a brand new can of the matcha she preferred to use in her macarons. I can see why. From the can to the finish product I could taste and smell the wonderful grassy properties of matcha. If you have never had it before, you might go "wow! what is that?" but trust me it grows on you real fast. It’s unpretentious and absolutely delicious in pastry.
I know that our Southern peaches are near their end and I have been stocking, preserving and canning as many of them as I could. This season has been particularly prolific and tasty and as much as it pains me to say goodbye to stone fruits I am happily getting my taste buds ready for pears, pomegranates, apples and pumpkins. Each season is a new palette. Even if it makes me paint in greens and orange which I am so-so about! One thing I have made a couple of times recently is peach pate de fruits. It keeps well, makes great little gifts for my students and is just plain good when the fruits are ripe.
So…in my usual ways, peach in one hand and matcha macarons in the other, I decided to marry the two together in one little perfect bite, mending the bridge between Summer leaving and Fall approaching. Alright, so I was helped by a little mascarpone and vanilla cream in the middle. I had no idea that peach and matcha would be that delicious together. They are. I am making more this weekend!
On a side note, I know that Caitlin and Y are going to be disappointed that I did not do a talking picture post as we joked about while Twittering one night. I was starting to crack up looking at some of the shots and started playing around with captions. Here are some of the outakes for the macarons "beauty" shoot.
One more little thing though before the recipe. There are people you want to meet and there are people you want to meet, eat and laugh with and learn from. For me, Tish Boyle is one of those people. I remember the morning I opened my emails and found one with her name as the sender. I did not click for a few seconds. Really. I turned to Bill and said "if this is not a joke, she emailed me" pointing at one book I love and that she co-authored, Chocolate Passion. I carefully clicked and held my breath. I turned to Bill with the biggest smile ever and said "Tish Boyle wants me!". And we both laughed. Or I snorted my coffee. I can’t quite remember. She wanted an interview for the print magazineDesserts Professional, alongside David Lebovitz and Michael Laiskonis. Without hesitation, I emailed back "Yes!" before adding "I love your work". When she responded "I’m honored you even know who I am", I fell in love with her even more, if that was possible. Ugh, hello! I am supposed to say that! Thank you Tish, I am honored beyond belief to be in such good company in a wonderful magazine. You can check the article in their August issue.
Matcha And Peach Pate de Fruits Macarons:
Use eggs that have been preferably aged 3-5 days in the fridge. Pierre Herme uses eggs that are aged until they are almost like water, about 5 days. If it’s good for Pierre, it’d good for me! The humidity, folding, aging of the eggs (the macs here were made with fresh whites) will affect the outcome. It’s all a balancing act of chemistry and action.
For the shells:
90 gr egg whites (30 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds
1 tablespoon matcha powder
For the pate de fruits: Notes: I use Certo liquid pectin so I can’t vouch for how others might behave. I use a large stainless steel pot so the evaporation and cooking could happen faster.
For a superb pectin free recipe, follow this recipe posted by the awesome Anita from Married with Dinner.
13 oz (380gr) peach puree (weight after you remove skin, pits and processed)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups (400gr) sugar, divided
3-4 tablespoons liquid pectin
For the mascarpone – vanilla cream:
8 oz (210gr) mascarpone, at room temperature (or substitute cream cheese)
2-3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
or 1/2 vanilla bean, seeded
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Prepare the macarons:
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Place the powdered sugar, almonds and matcha in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue along with some food coloring if using, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 280F. When ready, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.
Prepare the pate de fruits:
Line a 8×8-inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Plce the peach puree in a heavy saucepan and add the lemon juice. Stir in 1/2 cup (100gr) saugar and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and cook until its temperature register 113F, stirring constantly. Add the remaining 1.5 cups (300gr) sugar and the pectin to the pot and slowly bring the mixture to 200F, still over medium high heat while stirring constantly. Turn the heat down a bit and keep the mixture at 200F for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the heat back up and slowly bring the mixture to 223F. Keep it there for an additional 2-3 minutes (turn the heat down if necessary to do so). Remove from the heat and immediately pour the mixture into your pan lined with parchment paper. Let set for a couple of hours. Cut shapes with a sharp knife and roll the pieces of pate de fruit in sugar. Refrigerate if not eating all of them at once.
Prepare the mascarpone-vanille cream:
In a large bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla and the heavy cream and whisk until all the ingredients are incoporated. Place the mixture in a piping bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe a dollop of cream onto half of the macarons. Top with a square of pate de fruits and another macaron shell.
There are times in your life when you need to pull out all the stops, set up a special table, make an extraordinary tasty meal and just twirl some caramel strands around pretty mousse cakes. When crap hits the fan outside of my comprehension I just try to deal with it the best way I can: doing the things I know, doing them with dedication and focus. Yes, like twirling caramel strands around Peach and Chamomille Mousse Cakes.
Granted, my normalcy may not be yours but we all deal differently with stress and incredible circumstances. You might set out to clean your closet or reorganize your files. B. takes the house on a vaccum marathon. I usually go to the dock, take a huge breath in and go home to try to find some way to reconnect and it always ends up with the kitchen counter covered in sugar and flour. I also forge ahead in the photography and writing projects I have (portfolio is up!) happy not to have a minute to think too much about the telephone ringing. (I did previously established that I had a weird sense of logic, didn’t I?!)
I have been quite open here in the past, sharing painful sentiments and emotions, bringing you to share with me the positive in rather difficult moments. But there are circumstances that only a handful of people (if that many) have been made aware of and I wish to keep for ourselves for now. Sorry to tell you that things are not always as they seem without elaborating but not having to formulate yet again things into words here is such a relief.
All day long we make plans, rationalize, explain, and I find peace knowing that I can come here and just hint at stuff and then tell you in the lightest manner possible to go bake a cake because things are prettier all wrapped up in sugar. Thank you for allowing me to do that. Being here with you and sharing what I am passionate about whether it be pastry, baking, photography, ingredients is one of the best part of the day. Thank you.
One thing I am passionate about when Spring comes around is going down to the farmer’s market and get all my produce fresh and at ridiculously low prices. Egss, raw milk, vegetables and fruits galore. Happy, happy! I got so excited the other day when I got the first local peaches of the season. Velvet skin, rich colors and intoxicating scent. Happier, happier!
With peaches this fresh and juicy in my basket, I could only think about making ice creams and mousse. I wanted to create something soft and subtle, something that makes you want to close your eyes and focus on what it is you are eating and not only just eating it. I made a simple lemon and olive oil cake for the base, opting for a grassy flavored oil to play up with the peaches. The two different mousses start with the same base, a pate a bombe for which I flavored the sugar syrup with a good handful of dried chamomille buds (organic, usually by the bulk teas), and added pureed peaches to half of the mousse base. You can simply refrigerate the cakes until set and enjoy them chilled or freeze them and let them soften a bit for 10-15 minutes. We had them both ways and enjoyed them equally.
Makes four 3-inch cakes Notes: I build these cakes in 3-inch wide entremet or mousse cake rings but you could build one single cake in a 8-inch round or 8×8-inch cake pan. Only the look will be different. Instead of using rhodoid to line the rings, (nothing against it, just did not have any on hand), I used a much less expensive medium: plastic proctector sheets (yes the ones used around the office to protect documents) and cut them to fit the inside of the rings.
I did brush the cake base with Limoncello but you can skip this step if you wish. For the lemon olive oil cakes:
1 1/2 cups (185gr) all purpose flour
1 cup (200gr) sugar
1 tablespoon (14gr) baking powder
1/4 (1.5gr) teaspoon salt
1/2 cup egg whites (about 3-4)
3/4 (175ml) cup milk
1/4 cup (62.5ml) lemon juice
grated zest of one lemon
6 tablespoons (80gr) olive oil
For the chamomille and peach mousses:
1.5 tablespoons powdered gelatin
7 Tablespoons (130gr water), divided
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup (100 gr) sugar
2 tablespoons dried organic chamomille buds
3/4 to 1 cup peach puree (I process 2-3 cut peaches until finely pureed)
For the caramel decorations, please read here and here. I just twirled the caramel around a large tin can instead of a wooden spoon.
Prepare the cakes:
Preheat oven to 300F and position a rack in the center.
In a bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients for the cake. Set aside.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg whites and the milk. Make a well in the center of the flour mix and slowly add in the egg white mixture while stirring with a whisk. Add lemon juice, zest and the olive oil. Mix with a whisk until smooth. Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper, lightly spray with cooking spray and pour in the batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes back clean. Let cool and cut out four 3-inch rounds to fit your cake rings (extra cakes freeze well for up to 3 months). Line 4 cake rings with rhodoid or plastic sheets cut to fit and place your cake bases at the bottom. Place the rings on a baking tray and set aside.
Prepare the mousses:
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons of water and let stand while you prepare the pate a bombe.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or hand held beaters), beat the cream until it holds soft peaks. Chill it while you prepare the mousse base. Wash your bowl and whisk attachment.
In a heavy saucepan, stir together 5 tablespoons of water, sugar and chamomille buds. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Since you are not making caramel, it is ok to stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Let it boil and bring the mixture to 238°F on thermometer (soft-ball stage). Strain the syrup to remove the chamomille over a container with a spout (makes it easier to pour over the egg yolks)
In the clean bowl of your mixer, still using the whisk attachment, beat the yolks slightly to break them up. Increase the speed to medium high and slowly pour the hot syrup over the yolks. Go fast enough to prevent the eggs from scrambling but not so fast that you end up with most of the syrup on the wall of the bowl or the whisk. Dissolve the gelatin in the microwave for 10-12 seconds and quickly add it to the pate a bombe. Continue to whip until the mass is completely cold and airy.
Fold about one third of the pate a bombe base into the chilled whipped cream to loosen it up and make it easier to incorporate homogeneously. Fold in the remaining pate a bombe.
Assemble: Divide the mixture in half and carefully fold the peach puree into one part. Spoon or pipe the chamomille mousse over the cake base and do the same with the peach mousse. Refrigerate or freeze until set.
There are many events I like to participate in but there is one I would not miss for the world: LiveStrong Day With A Taste Of Yellow launched and hosted by Barbara from Winos and Foodies . Last year 149 bloggers from all over the world answered her call to celebrate life, remember our loved one who passed away from cancer and this year I have no fear that more will rally on May 13th to support the LiveStrong Foundation. I have previously talked about my brother passing away at an early age from cancer and then my grandmother a few years later. There is not a day that goes by without their memory influencing my thoughts, my choices and my attitude. I laugh more, I try not to sweat the small stuff (does not mean I succeed all the time) and I live and love stronger, for me and others. I tried to write this post all weekend long but everytime my eyes got cloudy and my heart heavy, no exception this very minute. I miss Thierry, I miss Mamie Paulette. I wish I could write a more eloquent post to their memory but I can’t even write the word cancer without hurting. The anger and disbelief has given way to sadness but last year I did manage to write some about it which you can read here.
Instead I want to focus on the woman behind the event, Barbara. Although I have never met her in person, I like to believe that we would be good friends if we were neighbors. I first "met" Barbara when I sent her a package during one round of Blogging By Mail….all the way to New Zealand! We kept in touch through emails, we discovered more about each other as the months went by and she is in my thoughts just about everyday. She has her own battle with cancer to fight and yet she never cease to amaze me by dropping me a line or sending me a little package when I come here and open up about some of my "mishaps". Thank you for being here, for being fierce, for being strong, for being such a support when I needed a little boost.
When she launched Taste of Yellow this year, she added a little photo contest opportunity with the request that our picture had to feature the yellow cancer wristband. Name your color, I got it, but in this case when I went to get mine wrapped around Teddy The Mini Bear I discovered that this ferocious beast had a field trip with the bear and the bracelet. I got online and figured I would order a bag of 10 and give them out to friends and family and right after I hit "buy", an email from Barbara came in reading that she had some and would I like her to send me one (from Australia this time, because she moved) Yep, Ma’m! I gave the whole bag I purchased away and kept hers for the photo shot and away from the beast of the house! Thank you my dear, macarons look great wrapped in yellow! The "funny" thing this year is that LiveStrong day falls on my birthday, a date my brother never missed although he was completely in his own world when it came to dates and celebrations. Life has a way to remind you of the big things doesn’t it?
Allright, what about Barbara’s event and the food…. It has to be yellow for one and since it has been in the 80sF around here lately I decided not to turn the oven on too long and make something refreshing. A tropical "verrine" of mango, fruit salad, and whipped Greek yogurt with peach ganache macarons…yellow, yellow…Of course I had to stick a macaron in there..eheheh!! That went down so easy last night as we were sitting on the porch, reminiscing about the first time B. met my bother in Montmartre in front of a big bowl of spaghetti and the first time he met my grandmother at her house in front of one of her famous tarts and a cup of tea. Great memories…the best (someone pass me a Kleenex).
I need to add after reading several comments that you do not need a yellow wristband to enter the event, it is just to take part in the photo contest. However, purchasing one or several through the Lance Armstrong Foundation will help fight this nasty disease.
For the bottom layer, peel the mango and cut in rough chunks, run them through the food processor with the lime juice until you obtain a fine puree. Divide it evenly among four glasses or dishes.
Peel and dice the remaining mango and mix it with the other fruits to get a nice fruit salad, add a couple of Tbs of lemon juice to prevent the fruits from turning brown if you want. Divide on top of the mango puree evenly among the glasses.
Mix the Greek yogurt and the whipped cream and top each glass with it. Sprinkle with crushed sugar cookies if your desire. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the Macarons shells:
3 egg whites (I like to use 1-2 day old egg whites)
50 gr. granulated sugar
200 gr. powdered sugar
110 gr. ground almonds
1 drop yellow food coloring
1 drop red food coloring
For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature on a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry and your macarons won’t work. Combine the ground almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a quick pulse. It will break the powdered sugar lumps and combine your almonds with it evenly. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold and remove some of the batter that will remain uncolored. Add the food colorings to the rest and fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 300F. Let the macarons sit out for an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool.
If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Pipe or spoon some ganache on one shell and sandwich with another one.
If you use fresh whites, zap them up in the microwave on medium high for 20 seconds to mimic the aging process.
For the Peach Ganache:
150 gr good quality white chocolate
75 ml heavy cream
Bring a small pot filled with water to a boil on the stove and cook the peach in it for a couple of minutes. Remove from the water, let cool, peel and chop into rough chunks. Run them through the food processor until you get a fine peach puree. Set aside.In a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt the white chocolate until completely smooth. Remove from the heat and add the heavy cream and peach puree. Gently incorporate all the ingredients together until your ganache is smooth. Refrigerate until of piping consistency and fill the macarons shells with it.